22 WordPress SEO Plugins For Optimizing Your Site In 2020

2019 WordPress SEO Plugins

Searching for a complete list WordPress SEO plugins?

This goes way beyond Yoast and dives into rich snippets, redirects, alt text, SSL, table of contents, even Google’s Site Kit plugin. The speed optimization plugins include 19 in itself.

I’ve been writing WordPress SEO + speed tutorials since 2011 – I am a complete nerd about this stuff. I only included the best SEO plugins (no duplicates) and I use most on my own site.

You can install as many WordPress SEO plugins as you like, but Google really wants to see organized, in-depth content around long-tail keywords that is better than the top results. That means choosing very specific phrases, adding a TOC, and writing long (3,000+ word) content.

Here’s the list:

 

1. Yoast SEO

Most people have Yoast, but few use it correctly. Here are some lesser-known Yoast tips.

Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin Settings

4 Key Steps When Using Yoast

  • Configure the settings
  • Setup Webmaster Tools
  • Choose long-tail (3+ word) phrases
  • Optimize content (this goes beyond Yoast’s green lights)

There’s More To On-Page Than Keywords – getting green lights in Yoast is all find and dandy, but it doesn’t make you rank. Selecting long-tail keywords with weak content in the top results then doing real on-page SEO, will. Don’t obsess over Yoast – spend more time on keyword research, add a table of contents, create a video/infographic, aim for 3,000 words, and add practical how-to tips. The most important place to use your keyword is your page title, SEO title, meta description, and permalink (slug). Avoid keyword stuffing which can risk a penalty.

Yoast-SEO-Analysis

I highly recommend reviewing my on-page SEO checklist for better, practical tips.

Don’t Use Snippet Variables – In Yoast’s settings, there’s an option to use snippet variables (templates) for SEO titles + meta descriptions. You should avoid using these since writing custom ones is always better. Make sure you stay within Google’s character limits (the green bar in Yoast) and you’re enticing people to click your link – not just including your keyword.

Yoast-Snippet-Variables

Optimize Content For Social – in Yoast there’s a “share” link where you can upload custom graphics for Facebook (1200 x 630px) and Twitter (1024 x 512px). This makes your content format nicely when people share it, and you can also customize the title + description text.

yoast-social-media-optimization

facebook-share

Setup Google Search Console And Fix Crawl Errors (Broken Pages) – sign up for Google Search Console, add your site, and select the HTML tag verification method. Copy this code and paste it into Yoast. After a few days, login to Google Search Console and view your crawl errors report. If you see any, setup redirects to redirect the broken pages to the correct pages.

HTML Tag Google Search Console Verification

Use a plugin like Quick Page/Post Redirect (or .htaccess) to redirect these to the correct URLs.

301 Redirect WordPress

Similar Plugins

 

2. Structured Content

Google recently added FAQs to search results, and the Structured Content plugin is the easiest want to implement them on your WordPress site. This is the same plugin Neil Patel uses in his video. To add FAQ rich snippets, install the plugin then see the instructions below.

Structured Content JSON-LD wpsc – WordPress plugin

Instructions

  • Install the Structured Content plugin.
  • Edit a page or post and click the FAQ icon.
  • Add your questions and answers (I recommend 3-8).
  • Clear the page’s cache.
  • In Google Search Console, request the URL to be indexed via Google’s URL Inspector.
  • Watch your FAQs appear in search results in just a few minutes!

FAQ Google Snippets

 

3. Republish Old Posts

This plugin resets your post’s publish dates to current day, making your content look fresh:

Publish Date

This is an easy way to increase click-through rates. Of course, people might wonder why your content says it was updated when it actually wasn’t. It’s pretty cheap, so proceed with warning.

Step 1: Find the entry meta section of your blog (the section at the very top of your posts) which for me is in the Genesis Simple Edits settings. Now include the post modified date.

Entry Meta

What this looks like on your posts:

Entry Post Modified Date

Step 2: Enable ‘date in snippet preview’ in Yoast (SEO > Search Appearance > Content Types).

Date-In-Snippet-Preview-Yoast

Step 3: Install the Republish Old Posts plugin and configure the settings. You can choose how often the plugin resets your publish dates under “post age before eligible for republishing.” Even if you don’t use this plugin, you should usually enable publish dates in search results then keep the content updated. Any time you edit a post and click the ‘publish’ the date will refresh.

Republish Old Posts

 

4. Automatic Image Alt Attributes

One day, WordPress stopped adding alt text to images automatically.

Thankfully, this plugin will do it for you. Just install it and it will use the image file name as the alt text. That means you can stop wasting your time writing alt text for every single image, like I used to. Just remember to label your image file name before uploading them to WordPress.

 

5. WP Review

WP Review is my favorite plugin for adding rich snippets (here’s a page I use it on). It supports 14 data types, looks great, has 16 pre-styled templates, and is maintained by the developers at MyThemeShop. It’s reliable, lightweight, and includes user reviews. There’s also a free version.

rich-snippets

Why I Use WP Review:

  • Design is much better than All In One Schema
  • Compatible with PHP 7+ (unlike WP Rich Snippets)
  • 16 pre-styled templates which are highly customizable
  • The plugin developer (MyThemeShop) keeps it updated
  • Supports 14 data types including the most common reviews + recipes
  • Multiple rating systems and option to include (moderated) user reviews
  • Free version and pro version are both solid, pro version has more features

Avoid These Rich Snippet Plugins:

 

6. Easy Table Of Contents

Why would a table of contents plugin be on my SEO plugin list?

Because adding a TOC to long pages/posts has HUGE benefits. Google says

Ensure that long, multi-topic pages on your site are well-structured and broken into distinct logical sections. Second, ensure that each section has an associated anchor with a descriptive name (i.e., not just “Section 2.1”), and that your page includes a table of contents which links to individual anchors.

What That Means For You:

  • Better chance of being awarded jump-to links in Google using named anchors
  • People can link to specific sections on your post (not just your single permalink)
  • People can immediately find what they want, and spend more time on your page

Jump To Links

Important: instead of using a plugin, adding a TOC using HTML/CSS lets style it and link to specific sections of the post (good for users and getting links). Here is a TOC GitHub template.

 

7. Google Site Kit

Google Site Kit combines Google’s most people tools (Search Console, Analytics, AdSense, PageSpeed Insights) into 1 WordPress plugin. You really don’t need this plugin (just go to the actual websites), but if you want to see these in your dashboard, this gives you that option.

Site Kit by Google

 

Still the best way to check all broken links on your WordPress site.

Detects broken links in pages, posts, comments, images, and even redirects. Dr. Link Check is good, but Broken Link Checker lets you fix them inside WordPress with 1-click options to edit or unlink each one. Of course, not having broken links on your website can improve your SEO.

Broken Link Checker Plugin

Here’s what it looks like:

Broken Link Checker

Warning: this plugin continuously runs scans and sucks up high amounts of bandwidth. I recommend fixing all broken links then immediately deleting the plugin when you’re done.

 

9. Quick Page/Post Redirect

When you change permalinks, you need to setup a redirect to the new page.

Quick Page Post Redirect Plugin

How To Setup A Redirect: Install it and go to “Quick Redirects.” Enter the old URL + new URL.

301 Redirect WordPress

Find Crawl Errors: Go to the crawl errors report in Google Search Console section to see all broken pages on your site, then use this plugin to redirect each one to the new, correct URL.

Yoast Search Console Crawl Errors

 

10. ShortPixel

ShortPixel is generally the best WordPress plugin for optimizing images.

It lets you losslessly compress images, strip EXIF data, and optimize them in other ways. Simply install the plugin, test a few images to make sure you’re satisfied with the image quality, then bulk optimize all images on your site. It also lets you optimize images once uploaded.

ShortPixel Settings

 

11. WP Rocket

WordPress says:

The Caching section gives you the biggest benefit for the smallest hassle.

Which cache plugin is best? WP Rocket was #1 in most Facebook polls and is what I use.

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

Why WP Rocket Is #1 In Facebook Polls

  • It’s easy to configure.
  • It yields fast load times.
  • It has extensive documentation.
  • It shouldn’t break your site (like some cache plugins).
  • It has tons of features most cache plugins don’t – lazy loading photos/videos/iframes, database cleanup, integration with Cloudflare + other CDNs, local Google Fonts and Analytics, Sucuri integration, etc. With most other cache plugins, you would need to install about 6 extra plugins to get these features, when WP Rocket has them built-in.

For how important it is, WP Rocket is worth $49/year. They also let you renew your license at 50% off so it’s really $24.50/year after the 1st year. And you can also get 10% off the initial price if you sign up for their email list. Check out my WP Rocket guide for setup instructions.

 

12. Asset Manager

Asset Manager lets you selectively disable plugins from loading on certain pages. Some plugins load on every single piece of content even if it’s not being used there. Disabling these plugins can reduce the number of requests on the page and make them load faster. Asset Manager is similar to Plugin Organizer (Perfmatters lets you do this too), only it’s free and simple to use.

Examples:

  • Disable slider plugin on pages that don’t use sliders
  • Disable rich snippets plugin on pages that don’t use rich snippets
  • Disable contact form plugin on pages that don’t have a contact form
  • Disable social sharing plugin on all pages (since it’s usually for blog posts)
  • Disable affiliate link management plugin on pages that don’t use affiliate links

 

13. Speed Optimization Plugins

Speed is a ranking factor (duh).

2019-GTmetrix-Report

Here are some great plugins for speeding up WordPress.

I use many of these on my site which contributed to my 100% GTmetrix scores. Migrating from EIG and low quality hosts like GoDaddy to SiteGround and Cloudways was another big reason.

  1. WP Rocket –  #1 cache plugin in most Facebook polls. Comes with heartbeat control, lazy loading, database cleanup, and hosting fonts + analytics locally. This means you don’t need to install these extra plugins if using WP Rocket.
  2. WP Fastest Cache – #1 free cache plugin in most polls. Also easy to configure, has options for Cloudflare + other CDNs, but lacks features from WP Rocket.
  3. WP-Optimize – cleans your database of spam, trash, and other junk files.
  4. Heartbeat Control – disables the WordPress heartbeat API which consumes resources by sending real-time notifications, when uses are editing a post, etc.
  5. Lazy Load – delays loading photos until users scroll down and see them (improves load times but constantly loading photos as you scroll is annoying).
  6. WP YouTube Lyte – delays loading videos/iframes until users scroll down and see them. Videos take a long time to load – this can shave many seconds off.
  7. CDN Enabler – helps set up your content delivery network (I use StackPath).
  8. CAOS (Host Google Analytics Locally) – fixes the “leverage browser caching” issues in GTmetrix by hosting your Google Analytics tracking code locally.
  9. OMGF – hosts fonts locally and fixes Google Font errors in GTmetrix + Pingdom by downloading your Google Fonts and creating a stylesheet for it.
  10. ShortPixelImagify / Smushimage optimization (lossless compression, resize images, remove EXIF data). All these are similar – you only need one.
  11. Specify Image Dimensions – adds a width/height to your image’s HTML, an item in GTmetrix. It only works for images in the visual editor, it does not work for images in page builders, widgets, or any areas outside the visual editor.
  12. AMP For WPadds AMP pages to make mobile pages load faster and gives your site an “AMP Stamp” in mobile search results. However, Kinsta’s conversions dropped 59% when using AMP and I have not used them since.
  13. Clearfy / Perfmattersdisables unnecessary functions in WordPress core (trackbacks, pingbacks, heartbeat API, REST API, and other things 99% of you don’t need). Both plugins are similar and have other speed features as well.
  14. Harry’s Gravatar Cachecaches Gravatars, making comments load faster.
  15. GTmetrix for WordPress – keep track of load times and set email alerts.
  16. Display PHP Versionshows which PHP version you’re running (should be at least 7) which has a huge speed impact. You can upgrade in your host’s cPanel.
  17. Query Monitor – see slowest plugins, queries, etc (good replacement for P3).
  18. Autoptimize – if you’re using GoDaddy, WP Engine, or other hosts who blacklist caching plugins, this plugin still gives you the benefits of optimizing HTML/CSS/JavaScript (items in GTmetrix + Pingdom) but without the caching.
  19. WP Hosting Performance Check – tells you if your server is slow and whether your speed technology (PHP, MySQL, WordPress versions) need updating.

 

14. Rel Nofollow Checkbox

If you’re using affiliate links, this adds a nofollow option when adding links in WordPress. Otherwise, you would have to go into the link’s HTML and add nofollow manually. Saves time.

 

15. Yoast Premium Plugins

Spoiler: Yoast claims their premium plugins lift heaven and earth when in reality you will probably not see any direct improvements just by purchasing their WordPress SEO plugins.

Conclusion: Yoast’s premium plugins aren’t worth the money.

WordPress SEO plugins by Yoast

Yoast SEO Premium ($89/year) – I wrote a review on it, basically explaining how most features can be done with free plugins or are simply not valuable, especially for $89/year.

  • Redirect manager – use the free Quick Page/Post Redirect plugin.
  • Internal linking suggestions – do you really need a plugin for this?
  • Multiple focus keywords – doesn’t always detect partial match keywords.
  • Content insights – shows 5 top used words (keyword density barely matters).
  • Social preview – as long as you’re uploading social media images, you’re OK.
  • Support – I have heard many stories of them just referring people to tutorials.

Yoast Video SEO Plugin ($69/year) – create a video sitemap and markup pages so video thumbnails appear in Google Videos. Of course, most people go to Google’s regular search engine, so this will likely only pay off if you’re creating lots of videos especially how-to style.

Yoast Local SEO Plugin ($69/year) – adds a KML file, schema.org, and the option to embed a Google Map and store locator. Embedding a Google Map is easy, and most information Yoast “optimizes” for is already pulled from your Google My Business page. Yoast says this plugin “tells Google everything it needs to know to put you on top in local search results” which is not true considering Google’s local ranking factors have little to do with Yoast’s local SEO plugin.

Yoast Google News Plugin ($69/year) – doesn’t actually get you in Google News (see those steps here) but helps format content for Google News by creating an XML News Sitemap.

Yoast WooCommerce SEO Plugin ($49/year) – enables rich pins for Pinterest.

 

16. Schema

There are lots of schema plugins, but it depends on which kind of markup you’re doing. For example, if you’re writing reviews, you would need a plugin for review markup like WP Review. Figure out which kind of markup is applicable to your content, then use the required plugins.

Schema Plugins

 

17. Analytify

See a glimpse of your Google Analytics directly in WordPress.

Analytify Dashboard

 

18. Really Simple SSL

This plugin “automatically detects your settings and configures your website to run over https.” Of course, you still need an SSL to use it, but Really Simple SSL makes it easy to set it up.

Let’s Encrypt SSL is the most popular free SSL and is what I use. Google cracked down on non-HTTPs sites even harder in July, 2018 when they began showing not secure in Google Chrome.

Really Simple SSL

Features:

  • Mixed content fixer
  • Enable WordPress 301 redirection to SSL
  • Enable 301 .htaccess redirect
  • Enable Javascript redirection to SSL

 

19. Better Search Replace

Why is a search/replace plugin on the list?

Because if you changed www or http(s) versions, you will need to bulk update all links on your website to reflect the new version. That’s where this plugin comes into play – I suggest HTTPS and non-www. Simply search the old version of your domain and replace it with the new one.

Better Search Replace – WWW Versions

Cool Trick: if you use the same image on multiple pages, this is an easy to way update them all.

 

20. Anti-Spam

Spam kills blogs. JetPack says

Spammers may leave link or keyword-filled comments on your site in an attempt to direct more traffic to their sites (and boost their own SEO). With enough spam, your rankings could take a hit, through no fault of your own.

The Anti-Spam plugin is captcha-free and does a superb job filtering spam comments, while leaving the good ones. Spam is a huge problem with WordPress. This plugin will save you time.

 

21. WP Google My Business Auto Publish

Posting updates your Google My Business page has becoming increasingly important in Google’s 2018 local search ranking factors. This plugin publishes your WordPress content directly to your Google My Business Page. It’s still in the early stages, but has terrific reviews.

2018 Local Search Ranking Factors

Here are some of the plugin settings:

WP Google My Business Auto Publish

 

22. StudioPress Plugins

If you’re using a StudioPress theme or Genesis Framework (which I recommend), you need to be using StudioPress plugins. These are on my list because they are lightweight, reliable, and will keep your load time (and chances of errors) to a minimal, making your site run smoothly.

studiopress-genesis-plugins

 

Other SEO Tools You Should Know About

  • Answer The Public – coolest keyword research tool (photo below). Pulls keywords from Google Autocomplete and creates a visual map based on different keyword types (questions, prepositions, comparisons). The greener the circle, the more competitive the keyword is. Question keywords are a great way to make sure your content is comprehensive (it answers the most popular questions people are searching). My favorite keyword research tool.
  • Moz Local – analyzes your top 15 citations (GMB, Yelp, YellowPages, etc) and shows incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate profiles. Try to get 100% scores!
  • Moz Link Explorer – shows link metrics, as well as your domain authority which is an indicator of how competitive your targeted keywords should be.
  • MozBar – Google any keyword and see each search result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority). The higher they are, the more competitive the keyword is. Try competing with sites that have similar domain authority.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer – basically Google Keyword Planner, only better. Shows organic competition (unlike Keyword Planner which is for AdWords). Shows monthly search volume and has tons of filters for sorting keywords.
  • Keywords Everywhere – Google any keyword and see monthly search volume, estimated competition, and CPC directly in search results. Also works for YouTube, Amazon, Etsy, Google Analytics and other programs/search engines.
  • SEMrush – one of the most extensive SEO softwares are the market, literally telling you everything about your keywords, backlinks, content SEO, and analytics. Many metrics can’t be found in Google Analytics or Search Console.
  • Google Autocomplete – my favorite trick is “fill in the blank” where you use the underline character _ to have Google (yes you guessed it) fill in the blank. Try it with Chicago _ Photographer. You must end on the underline character.
  • Google Search Console – See errors with your site (indexing, security, mobile, AMP, sitemap, penalties), SEO titles/meta descriptions that are too short or long, set your preferred domain name (www vs. non-www), international targeting, Search Analytics (my favorite way to measure overall SEO + CTRs), links to your site, and data highlighter for structured data. You need to use it.
  • Google Trends – see keyword trends in specific geographies (and YouTube).
  • Cloudflare – free CDN with 200+ data centers which can be setup with most cache plugins. Has additional features like accelerated mobile links, hotlink protection, Railgun, and Page Rules. Improves both site speed and security.
  • Dr. Link Check – scans entire site for broken links (up to 7,500/month) but does not provide a user-friendly way to fix them directly in your WordPress dashboard (like Broken Link Checker does, but BLC does consume CPU).
  • Copyscape – prevents plagarism (searches the web for copies of your content).
  • HubShout WebGrader – see full list of competitors keywords and a side-by-side comparison of backlinks, domain authority, and highest ranked pages.
  • StackPath – CDN with 30+ data centers (mostly in the US). More data centers = faster content delivery, which is why I use both Cloudflare and StackPath.
  • Siteliner – checks entire site for duplicate content and highlights it.
  • Screaming Frog – extensive (free) SEO audit tool which shows missing alt text, SEO titles, meta descriptions, URLs, AMP, sitemaps, and also integrates with Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and many other SEO tools.
  • vidIQ – search any keyword in YouTube and see key metrics that indicate how competitive the keyword is. Based on likes, views, shares, comments, etc.
  • SEOquake – Chrome extension which is great for keyword research. Shows each search result’s links, Alexa rank, domain age, indexed pages, keyword analytics, internal links, external links, and many other (customizable) metrics.
  • Contact Form 7 Google Analytics – adds event tracking to all your CF7 forms.
  • SiteGround – the host I recommend who was rated #1 in 30+ Facebook polls.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🔌 What is the best free WordPress SEO plugin?

Yoast and Rank Math are the best free SEO plugins to help you optimize your content based on keywords. They also create an XML sitemap automatically, help you set up Google Search Console, and customize which content is indexed in search engines.

🔌 Is Yoast the best SEO plugin?

Yoast is one of the most popular SEO plugins, but that doesn't mean it's the best. Rank Math has everything included in Yoast SEO Premium, but it's free and more lightweight, leading to a faster website.

🔌 Is Yoast or Rank Math better?

Rank Math is arguably better than Yoast since it has more features, yet it's not as code-heavy. Yoast also shows advertisements in the WordPress dashboard, which can be annoying.

Did I Miss Any Good SEO Plugins?
I hope this list was helpful! If you have questions about  any of these WordPress SEO plugins feel free to drop me a line in the comments and I’ll be glad to help you out. Remember, I have lots of tutorials on Yoast, WordPress speed optimization, and other SEO-related tutorials. If you have a question about those, please leave a comment on that specific tutorial. Finally, if you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend who might like it too – I’d appreciate that.

Cheers,
Tom

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